By Patrick Odey
The rapidly developing mobile Internet connects users anywhere, anytime. According to Deloitte’s research on customer behaviors in 2013, Wi-Fi is now the most popular choice for wireless network access. The research report shows that 69% of smartphone users use Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet at home, office, or school, more than 2G and 3G systems. In addition to private network usage, 43% of smartphone users connect to the Internet using public Wi-Fi access.
This surge in mobile internet access has also affected retail trends, with increasing numbers of shoppers now using their mobile devices to shop online. Users’ preferences for absorbing messages are also evolving, with around 55% of users preferring mobile commercials to televisual or traditional Internet commercials. The mobile trend is set to grow according to In Mobi, a mobile advertising company that predicts that mobile shopping will grow by more than 35% in 2014.
Public spaces, including stadiums and football clubs are also making changes in order to keep pace with the mobile Internet age. In 2013, the Borussia Dortmund Football Club selected Huawei’s high-density stadium Wi-Fi solution after completing comprehensive comparisons and tests. The objective was to establish a wireless network in the club’s home stadium, Signal Iduna Park. With an average attendance of more than 80,500 people, the stadium is the busiest football club in the world. The club selected Huawei’s solution which provides high-density user access and multi-service operation, enhancing the experience for fans at the stadium.
The project encountered some challenges in relation to planning, high-density user access and differentiated services to fit the business model. The first challenge related to planning. Wireless data that is transmitted through electromagnetic waves can penetrate obstacles, be refracted or interfere with one another. In order to map electromagnetic waves like network cables, Huawei engineers developed an automatic planning tool. The tool was successfully implemented to design a high-performance wireless network covering the stadium. The result was a flawless network design forming the basis for high network quality and successful network operations.
The second challenge was in relation to high-density user access. When large audiences share moments via mobile devices, a single access point must provide high-speed access for several hundred users. Low-performance networks will break-down in these circumstances. The Huawei high-density stadium Wi-Fi solution uses various control and scheduling technologies to address user access, service transmission, and roaming problems. By doing so, the network performance was improved by 30%, enabling each access point (AP) to provide access for more than 100 users. In addition, the network was created to be flexible, agile and capable of supporting future service growth.
The third challenge was in providing differentiated services to adapt to the new business model. Economic interests needed to be balanced with user experience, with basic network access Internet services provided for free. The Huawei high-density stadium Wi-Fi solution allowed the business model to be profitable by deeply integrating IT services with network services. This allowed the customer to maximize return on investment from new services on the wireless network.
The Huawei high-density stadium Wi-Fi solution helps create smart stadiums with reliable, fast, innovative wireless networks. Huawei Nigeria is working with operators and other stakeholders to enlarge the WIFI coverage.
*Odey is a public affairs analyst